Daniel Williams

Arwen Blackgrace: Part Eight

In Arwen Blackgrace, Stories, Writing on 12/08/2013 at 17:45

Having escaped from Varney, Beatrice is reunited with Devon and awaits the arrival fo the Blackgraces to Seastone…

Arwen Blackgrace

Part Eight

Devon’s family were happy to have me stay with them, even though they were curious as to why. Devon’s mother kept suitably trying to ask if I were pregnant.

In the day Devon would go out and learn what he could, and at night we would plan. We learnt the Governor had raided Varney’s home and tensions were high.

I had Devon find me some paper and something to write with. I wrote down the location of Varney’s other house. Once I had finished, Devon took it away. When he came back in the next morning he just said, ‘It’s done.’

In the daytime I stayed inside and played with the children. Devon’s parents began to notice that I would duck away whenever the Governor’s Officers came down the street.

‘Beatrice,’ Devon’s mother asked me that night, ‘are you in trouble with the law?’

We were sat around their little table. Devon’s father wouldn’t make eye contact with me. He just wiped his big hands on his scruffy green jacket.

‘She killed a man,’ Devon said.

I said, ‘He was trying to attack me, I retaliated, and the Governor wants to hang me.’

‘Are you the one they’re after?’ Devon’s father asked, ‘The girl who escaped?’

I nodded.

‘She did nothing wrong, Dad,’ Devon said, his face red, ‘and she’s going away soon, I’m keeping her safe until then.’

His father looked up and about. ‘Devon would you take Beatrice outside so we can talk.’

We went outside and stood in the alley. A cat meowed at us. I apologised to Devon.

‘There’s nothing to be sorry for, Go Away,’ he said. We stood next to each other, leaning against the back wall of the butchers. ‘You’ll be gone soon, I heard that The Black Prince has been spotted.’

Above our heads came the sound of Devon’s parents arguing.

‘They’ll let you stay,’ Devon said. ‘They like having you about. They’ll miss us when we’re gone.’

‘Us?’

‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Coming with you, aren’t I?’

‘Oh, are you?’

He turned to me. ‘Of course I am. I’m practically your first mate.’

I laughed.

He said, ‘I heard Governor’s men went to that house you wrote to them about, Varney’s other house.’

‘And what happened?’

‘A few of Varney’s men got arrested.’

I wondered if the small dark-haired one who’d tried to kidnap me was among them.

‘Are they in the jail now?’

‘Oh yes.’

I nodded. ‘Devon, do you remember you told me about a man who could get us guns?’

‘Well…I suppose I did. Why?’

‘Don’t worry, I don’t want guns.’

He breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Good, I’ve never shot anyone.’

‘Could he get us some gunpowder?

‘Gunpowder?’ Devon gasped.

‘Shush.’

Devon looked about. ‘What the bloody hell do you want gunpowder for, Go Away?’

‘We’re going to break out Varney’s men,’ I said.

******

Later in the afternoon, Devon came down the alleyway. He carried something covered over in a dirty old cloth. His face was pale. I saw him through the window and raced downstairs to greet him.

‘You got it!’

He nodded and slowly put the small covered barrel of gunpowder on the ground.

‘Don’t touch it,’ he said. ‘It’s very…I don’t know. Scary.’

‘Coward. We have to do it tonight, before Varney gets a chance to get his men out.’

‘And blowing a bloody great hole in the wall of the jail is the way to do?’

‘The Governor can’t ignore a bloody great hole in his wall,’ I said. ‘We’ll do it tonight.’

******

After eating a meal with his family, Devon announced we were going out for the night. His mother and father shared a look, and all his father said was, ‘You best not wake us when you come in.’

Devon took the gunpowder, keeping the barrel wrapped in the cloth, and we made our way to the jail.

It had been so long since I had been aboard in Seastone at night, I had forgotten about the sights and sounds. But I didn’t miss them. And I wouldn’t miss them when I left. I was a Blackgrace and belonged with them, my family. My life in Seastone had been pretending, a fantasy. And soon, so soon I would be with them.

There were only two gates in wall around the jail. We waited by the small gate at the back of the jail. Nobody came in or out. After hours I passed I said to Devon, ‘There’s only one thing for it. We’re going to have to knock.’

I walked towards the gate. Behind me Devon muttered, ‘Yes, and they’ll just let us in with a barrel of gunpowder…’

I banged my fist on the gate. There was a small hatch in door. A lock clicked and the hatch opened. There was an Officer looked out at us.

‘What?’

‘We’ve bringing wine,’ I said. ‘For the Governor.’ And I indicated towards the barrel.

The old Officer closed the hatch on us. The gate opened.

‘Come on, then…’

We went through. Devon said thank you to the Officer.

‘Let me give you something for your trouble,’ I said to him, making it look as if I were seeing how much money I had. Instead I pulled out a club Devon had procured for me. I hit the old Officer on the head and he collapsed to the floor. I had rope on me, which I used to tie his hand and legs together.

Once we’d done that, we made our way across to the jail. There was a row of barred windows. A few weeks ago, one of them had been my cell. Devon gave me the barrel of gunpowder and I pulled the top off. I poured out the black powder along the wall just away from where the cells were. Whether or not Varney’s men escaped didn’t matter. It just had to look like an escape attempt, even if it were one that hadn’t worked.

We stood back and Devon handed me a box of matches.

‘You ready to run, Go Away?’

I nodded and struck the match. I tossed it onto the tip of the trail of gunpowder.

It sparked alight.

‘Run, run, run’ Devon said and took my arm. And we ran back to the gate. We got it open and heard the explosion behind us.

Rubble flew into the air. The noise was deafening. We fled into the night.

******

In the pubs and the inns and the taverns, everybody was talking about what had happened at the jail. Nobody had ever defied the Governor like that. Devon said to me, ‘The way people are talking makes it sound like we’re in the middle of a war. Varney’s claiming he’s got nothing to do with it, it was somebody else. There’s a price on your head, Go Away.’

‘What’s the Governor doing?’

‘Breaking apart Varney’s businesses. There’s been raids, lots of Officers killed, Varney’s men too. It’s not safe to be out at night anymore. Seastone’s tearing itself apart.’

It was cold in the alley behind the butcher’s shop. Devon shivered and hopped on the spot. ‘And I bumped into Lydia Pryce,’ he said. ‘she wants to see you.’

‘What did you tell her?’

‘Told her to come here tomorrow.’

I clipped him around the head.

‘What was that for?’

‘You can’t tell anybody I’m here!’

‘But she’s harmless!’

‘Will you two keep in down!’ Came a voice from a window above us.

‘Sorry, Mrs. Weiss,’ Devon shouted up.

In a hushed voice I said, ‘What’s Lydia Pryce coming here for?’

‘I don’t know, to talk,’ he said. ‘She’s all right, I wouldn’t worry about it.’

‘I’m not letting her know I’m here. When she turns up, take her somewhere else.’

Devon knew of an abandoned house a few streets away. I told him to bring her to me there.

******

The abandoned house was dusty and grey. My guests arrived when it was nighttime. I heard them enter the house and Devon called ‘Go Away?’

I didn’t answer. I let them find their way through the house to where I waited for them, sat at a table.

‘Beatrice?’ Lydia said.

Devon said, ‘Can’t I put a candle on?’

‘No,’ I said. ‘We can’t let anybody know we’re here.’

‘Beatrice…’ Lydia said and she came over to me. Some moonlight shone with the window. She stood in the patch of it. She wore that old red dress with the red scarf around her neck.

‘Beatrice, please, I know what it’s like,’ Lydia said, ‘to be an orphan and feel like you haven’t got any hope-’

‘I have hope, Lydia and I’m sorry I can’t help you.’

‘You don’t understand, I’ve been in your position,’ she came close to me, kneeling down on the floor next to me. ‘When I left the orphanage I was taken by a man…on the promise that he’d give me a job…’

Devon was at the other end of the room. He looked about as if he’d heard a noise.

Lydia continued, ‘But that’s what he did, taken orphans under the pretence of…helping them. But he sold them, Beatrice. And he had not right to do that.’

Tears rolled down her face.

‘He sold me to a ship, for the men to use,’ she spat. ‘Look what they did to me.’ She took the scarf from her neck. I saw rope burns and scars. ‘They tortured me for…their pleasure. I was just something to be sold.’ She put her hands on my arm, ‘Don’t you see, Beatrice, I’m offering you a chance you’d never get…’

I said, ‘The man who sold you was Giles Corrigan?’

She nodded. ‘I got away from that ship, made money for myself and started the orphanage in Pentia so nobody would have to suffer that.’

‘Giles was kind to me-’

‘Of course he was. He was going to sell you, like an item,’ she gripped my arm tighter. ‘He couldn’t be allowed to do that.’

‘Why were you in Seastone?’

‘Why?’

I said, ‘Your orphanage is in Pentia, why come to Seastone at all?’

‘I…business…’

Quietly, I said, ‘You killed him. You were the one who snuck in his room and shot him. For revenge.’

‘I didn’t know about you at the time,’ she said, ‘but when I did, I knew, knew it was a sign from God that I was take you and protect you.’

I pulled my arm away from her.

‘Beatrice, please, we only want to help you…’

‘We?’

Lydia stood up, ‘He’s a rich man, he came to me because of my work with orphans, he wants to help get you away, his name is Varney-’

I stood up quickly, knocking the chair over. ‘Devon, we have to get out of here!’

The door of the house burst open and men came through the dark.

Devon stood to face them, one tackled into him.

‘Beatrice, run!’ Devon shouted at me.

In the darkness the men seemed like shadows. Lydia was hurled out of the way and two of them grabbed at me. I kicked and fought and called Devon’s name.

‘Don’t hurt her!’ Lydia was shouting.

‘Shut up,’ said a voice. I only caught a glimpse of him taking out a sword and slashing at Lydia. Her body fell to the floor. My mouth was gagged. They tied my hands together.

‘Where’s the lad gone?’ A voice called. ‘Where is he?’

I hoped that Devon was safe.

They pulled me to my feet and dragged me out of the house. There was a carriage waiting for me. A man pushed me at the carriage and I hit the side.

‘Varney sends his regards,’ he hissed in my ear.

There was a bright light and a rumble.

‘What was that?’ one of them said.

In the harbour, lights flashed.

‘It’s a ship,’ somebody said.

Cannon’s roared. Screams and shouts echoed.

‘Pirates,’ said one of Varney’s men.

******

Part Nine: 15/8/13

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